Sudan: Hundreds rally in support of initiative to end crisis

'The Call of Sudan's People' aims to end political deadlock and pave the way towards elections next year

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Hundreds of Sudanese gathered on Sunday outside a conference hall in the capital, Khartoum, where meetings were held to find a way of ending the country's political crisis.

The Call of Sudan's People initiative was launched last month by Al Tayeb Al Jed, a Sufi leader, and has the backing of Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, who led a military takeover last year.

Sudan has been reeling from political unrest, a spiralling economic crisis and a spike in ethnic clashes in its far-flung regions.

Mr Al Jed said the initiative would address the economic attended a conference under the initiative on Saturday, where Mr Al Jed said 120 political parties and multiple factions were involved.

Diplomats from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the African Union attended a conference under the initiative on Saturday where Mr Al Jed said 120 political parties and several factions were involved.

A woman attends a rally calling for an end to ethnic tensions and civil conflict following an escalation of violence in Blue Nile state and Darfur, in Khartoum, Sudan July 26, 2022.  REUTERS / Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Mr Al Jed and Gen Al Burhan have called on all sections of Sudanese society to join the initiative. In a televised speech on Sunday, the military chief renewed the army's support towards “democratic rule under an elected civilian government”.

Sudanese have been protesting to demand a civilian government since October, when the military removed the transitional government led by Abdalla Hamdok, a former UN economist. Security forces launched a violent crackdown on the demonstrations that has claimed the lives of more than 110 protesters and left thousands injured.

Last month, Gen Al Burhan pledged in a televised address to step aside and make way for Sudanese factions to agree on a civilian government.

Civilian leaders who were ousted by the military last year have dismissed his move as a “ruse”, and pro-democracy protesters have held fast to their rallying cry of “no negotiation, no partnership” with the military.

However, demonstrators outside the conference hall on Sunday said they backed the latest political talks.

Hozaifa Mohamed told AFP he supported “the initiative which calls for national consensus and which we hope will bring an end to the crises in Sudan”.

Another, Othman Abdelrahman, pointed out that it “calls for ending strife” and “brings together multiple factions from across Sudan, including Sufis, armed groups and others”.

The Forces for Freedom and Change, the main civilian bloc in the ousted government, is not taking part.

Also absent were members from the resistance committees — informal groups that emerged during months of protests that led to the military's removal of dictator Omar Al Bashir in April 2020.

The military takeover upended a transition to civilian rule launched after the 2019 ouster of Al Bashir, who ruled for three decades.

The country has since been rocked by near-weekly protests and a violent crackdown that has so far killed at least 116 people, according to pro-democracy medics.

Updated: August 15, 2022, 8:32 AM